By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers are a three point favorite tonight against the Spurs. The only member of the Sixers who was on the team the last time they were favored in a game over the Spurs was Aaron McKie. The big difference is that last time he was starting for the team, this time, he’s a coach.

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On January 13th 2001, the Sixers started Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie, Theo Ratliff, George Lynch and Tyrone Hill, and got significant minutes from Toni Kukoc, Rodney Buford and Todd MacCulloch; they won the game 100-83 and went to the NBA Finals.

This year’s Sixers are hoping for a similar result tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, and would love to be in the same position the 2000-01 team was at the end of the season. A hope that seems a lot less far fetched than it did a month or two ago.

The Sixers are coming off arguably their biggest win of the season, a 95-90 triumph over the Lakers at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday. At 18-7, they lead the Atlantic Division by three and a half games over the Boston Celtics. They’ve not only survived their toughest stretch of games of the season, so far they’ve thrived. The win over the Lakers brought them to 4-1 in a seven game stretch that still has tonight’s match-up and Friday night’s game against the Clippers, left to play.

Another similarity to the 2001 game is big men sitting out with injuries. Instead of calling the game for the Sixers television broadcast like he will be tonight, Malik Rose was an injured member of the Spurs, missing the game with a sore hip. The Sixers will most likely be missing two thirds of their starting frontcourt tonight. Spencer Hawes is listed as doubtful with a sore Achilles that has kept him out of eleven games so far this season. Hawes had an MRI Tuesday to see if the Achillies pain is related to a lower back problem. Elton Brand will be a game-time decision with a sore thumb, an injury he sustained in last week’s game against the Heat.

Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon interview Sixers forward Lavoy Allen:

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The Spurs have been hot, winners of five in a row. Though they sit in first place with a record of 17-9, most of their success has come at home. They’ve got a 4-8 record on the road this season. That’s bad news, considering they’re heading out on their annual “rodeo roadtrip,” when the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo takes over the AT&T center. Monday night’s win at Memphis was the first of nine in a row on the road. They’ll get a lift during the trip though, as they’re expected to welcome back sixth-man Manu Ginobili sometime during the trek. The All-Star shooting guard has missed 21 games with a broken han.

Tim Duncan is the only player that will play in both the 2001 game and the 2012 game. He’s not the Duncan of old, but still one of the best big men in the league, averaging 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.

There are still tickets available for tonight’s game, which features dollar hot dogs and a Lou Williams/94 WIP bobblehead for children 12 and under, and can be purchased at You can also listen to the game live at 7pm on 94 WIP.

**UPDATE** Sixers have announced that Elton Brand will play tonight, and Spencer Hawes (day to day) will not. Rookie Nikola Vucevic will start in place of Hawes.

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